Beginners Guide to Puppy Vaccinations: What You Need to Know 

Beginners Guide to Puppy Vaccinations

Today Vík had his first vet appointment with Dr.David Texeira at Heritage Animal Clinic! Results: 12 weeks, 19 pounds, and cute as heck!!

Puppies will need their first vaccinations (boosters) at six to eight weeks old. Today, Vík received lymes and bordetella, and he will go back in 2 weeks for his last set of “puppy vaccinations”. Whether you decide to purchase a puppy from a breeder or adopt one it is helpful to get any medical records so that you have documentation of the vaccination schedule. Both Kenzo & Vík came with the paperwork with the schedule of their first 3 sets of vaccinations, so it was easy for our vet to make sure they were receiving the immunizations they needed at the proper time and there was no overlap or risk of giving them their next dose too early.

Vík was extremely tired after the vet appointment at 9am. We got home around 11am and he slept until 3pm, went outside to use the bathroom, and then came right back inside and hung-out with me while I edited photos. Pictured above is him falling asleep in the spare bathroom after drinking some water. He really loves the bathroom because the tile is so cool.

Puppy Vaccinations: What You Need to Know

Sometimes when you are reading the vaccination worksheet from the vet, it may seem like you are reading a foreign language, so here is explanation of the diseases your puppy’s vaccinations will protect him/her against that I found on The American Kennel Club’s website: AKC.org. 

Bordetella Bronchiseptica
This highly communicable bacterium causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare cases, seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough. There are injectable and nasal spray vaccines available.

Canine Distemper
A serious and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals, distemper spreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, often, death. This disease used to be known as “hardpad” because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden.

There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections, control symptoms of vomiting, seizures and more. If the animal survives the symptoms it is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months.

Canine Hepatitis
Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and the eyes of the affected dog. This disease of the liver is caused by a virus that is unrelated to the human form of hepatitis. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill. There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.

Canine Parainfluenza
One of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough (see above).

Corona Virus
This is a virus that usually affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Doctors can keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable, and help alleviate nausea, but there is no drug that kills coronaviruses.

Heartworm
When your puppy is around 12-to-16 weeks, talk to your vet about starting her on a heartworm preventative. Though there is no vaccine for this condition, it is preventable with regular medication. The name is descriptive—these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs), though they can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys. The worms can grow to 14 inches long (ick!) and, if clumped together, block and injure organs. A new infection often causes no symptoms, though dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite or have difficulty breathing. Infected dogs may tire after mild exercise. Unlike most of the diseases listed here, which are passed by urine, feces, and other body fluids, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Therefore, diagnosis is made via a blood test and not a fecal exam. The FDA has more information about heartworm.

Kennel Cough
Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough results from inflammation of the upper airways. It can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, and often involves multiple infections simultaneously. Usually, the disease is mild, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing; sometimes it’s severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite. In rare cases it can be deadly. It is easily spread between dogs kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels. Antibiotics are usually not necessary, except in severe, chronic cases. Cough suppressants can make a dog more comfortable.

Leptospirosis
Unlike most diseases on this list, Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria, and some dogs may show no symptoms at all. Leptospirosis can be found worldwide in soil and water. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to people. When symptoms do appear, they can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, kidney failure (with or without liver failure). Antibiotics are effective, and the sooner they are given, the better.

Lyme Disease
Unlike the famous “bull’s-eye” rash that people exposed to Lyme disease often spot, no such telltale symptom occurs in dogs. Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Transmitted via ticks, an infected dog often starts limping, his lymph nodes swell, his temperature rises, and he stops eating. The disease can affect his heart, kidney, and joints, among other things, or lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. If diagnosed quickly, a course of antibiotics is extremely helpful, though relapses can occur months or even years later.

Parvovirus
Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the most risk to contract it. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates the loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a dog within 48-to-72 hours, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness.

Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that invades the central nervous system, causing headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Treatment within hours of infection is essential, otherwise, death is highly likely. Most states require rabies vaccination. Check with your vet about rabies vaccination laws in your area.

Aren’t some of these diseases just terrible!? I cannot stress how imperative it is to vaccinate your doggies!! Although puppies have to make for frequent visits to the vet for their boosters, it is well worth it! As adults, dogs will require vaccinations less frequently.

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